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Are Risk Takers Happier?

My good friend, Dan, and I recently met for lunch. (Dan and I often have rich meaningful conversations, which I value tremendously.) In his usual direct way he asked me, “Do you think people who take risks are happier?”

I perceived that he felt that risk takers are less happy, since they are often needing a risk fix of some sort. Or that they are chronically less satisfied with their current conditions for whatever reason.

It made me think.

I knew where he was headed, but my honest initial feeling was that people with higher risk tendencies were, in fact, happier than those who did not. I felt that I was happier, at least, in a holistic sense. I clearly knew why I felt this way. And my informal observations of risk takers reinforced my assumption.

For example, I have often deliberately taken risks in order to not experience regret, or to avoid a lingering “what if” in my psyche. I’m mostly talking about smaller risks here. For example, playing music in front of an audience. Or attending stand-up comedy or acting classes. These are activities that I’ve always been drawn to, but felt that there was a real risk of looking stupid.

Successful or not in these endeavors (and I’m most often unsuccessful), I sleep well at night knowing that I tried and that I have clarity. My mindset has been, “If it’s truly meaningful to me, then I’d much rather fail by trying than to not try and regret it.” I’d rather have a clear answer, for better or for worse, than a non answer. And if I get a good answer, great!

After talking with Dan, I returned to my office and found a research study that offered the following conclusion:

“…people who enjoyed taking risks were more content with their lives.”

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About the author, John

John Benzick is an entrepreneurship coach and the founder of Venture Superfly. He is a Tech Partner at the venture-capital fund of Matchstick Ventures, a Mentor with Techstars Retail accelerator, an Entrepreneur-In-Residence and (former CEO-in-Residence) at the University of Minnesota, and founder and owner in two consumer product businesses. Click the button below to learn more.

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